On Monday, producer Quincy Jones and singer Lionel Richie accomplished a tremendous feat in the name of charitable outreach: They brought together dozens of superstars from the music world (along with a handful of Hollywood guests) to record a new version of “We Are the World.”
When the tune, which was originally recorded 25 years ago as a way to raise money for hunger relief in Africa, is finally released, the proceeds will go to help survivors of the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed a large portion of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. But where exactly will the money go, and who will benefit the most?
“All my executives and staff that are here are working for nothing,” said Randy Phillips, the CEO of AEG Live and Richie’s manager. (AEG Live underwrote much of the operational costs for the recording of the track, as did Visa.) “No one’s making any money. This is strictly a charitable event. We want as much as possible, if it’s 99 percent, to go to charity. That’s what we want to happen here. What we’re going to do is we’ve formed a charitable foundation called the We Are the World Foundation LLC.”
Phillips explained that for some people, their involvement in the song won’t end when the tape stops rolling. “The money will go [to the foundation] as a pit stop, and then it will be distributed. There’s a board that’s going to decide where it goes,” he said. “And on that board is Quincy and ['Crash' director] Paul Haggis and Luis Alberto Moreno, who runs the [Inter-American] Development Bank.”
The entire recording process was filmed by Haggis, who will turn it into a special called “We Are the World — 25 for Haiti,” which will premiere on NBC during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics on February 12.